Expert Advice | Safety Tips for the Work-From-Home Job Search

Angie Nelson is a guest writer for the Life at Appen blog. Angie began working from home in 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and started the work-from home lifestyle. Today she shares her passion for making money from home on her blog The Work at Home Wife. You can visit Angie’s site to learn more about how to make money online legitimately. You can apply for remote and work-from-home jobs at If you are just starting your remote job search, you may be asking yourself, “are work-at-home jobs legitimate?” It’s an understandable concern. You may have read online reviews or seen people on the news who could have benefited from more research about applying for legitimate flexible and online jobs. Man on couch looking at tablet

Scammers know that many people looking to work from home are eager to start new opportunities when it comes to family, finances, or both. When you are excited to start something new, it is always good to backup your decisions with research. The benefits of working from home are great and it is essential that you listen to your inner voice when searching for genuine, work-from-home jobs.

Whether you are unsure of what a work-at-home scam looks like or want to help spread the word about trustworthy, remote-and-flexible companies to work for, this post is for you. All work-at-home jobs are NOT scams. We’re here to help you spot which sources can be considered reputable and trustworthy. Here are four things to look for in legitimate companies that offer work-from-home jobs:

1. Payment through reputable sources

Legitimate work-at-home jobs pay in the same way as traditional employment arrangements. The money you earn is sent to you by direct deposit, check, or through online payment services like Payoneer.

If you are asked to do something odd like send a gift card, provide credit card information, or open an account somewhere else to receive wire transfers, stop the application or interview immediately. These are common signs of work-at-home scams.

Another sure sign of an illegitimate opportunity is the “I pay you. You pay me.” scam. In this scenario, a scammer sends you a check that is supposedly for equipment purchases or some other “necessary” expense for your new job. If someone online instructs you to cash a check, make a purchase, then send the remaining balance back to them, stop the conversation.

What happens is you cash a check and send the scammers money. Then your bank finds out it is a fraudulent check. YOU are responsible for the value of the check cashed. Your bank will take the money out of YOUR account. It will be YOUR responsibility to pay for the fraudulent check out of your own account.

Moral of the story: if someone online asks you to send them money, do not help them. In other words, red flag #1: weird work and payment arrangements.

Woman points at laptop screen while chatting with another woman

2. Realistic earnings for your tasks

Many people would tell you it’s their dream to get paid for a job that allows you to set your own schedule and work from a variety of places. That goes for working at home as well.   The internet has been around since 1990. Trustworthy corporations have spent many years investing in real support systems for their applicants. You can expect a wage that is reasonable for your work. Moral of the story: Be comfortable with setting realistic expectations for your time. If you are an independent contractor, the work may be part-time and available depending on the day-to-day needs of your job. A legitimate work-from-home company should not require you to pay money to learn more about their positions. Be sure to expect specific details about any opportunities you find online. In other words, red flag #2: big bucks for little work

3. Communication through a company email or professional network

We have seen a rise lately in messenger or chat-based interview requests. While it’s commonplace for companies to host an interview with prospects by phone, it’s a red flag when someone asks to interview you within a messenger service, non-professional social media platform, or another generic, chat-based system. These chat interviews typically end up in a high-pressure situation in which the person on the other end of the chat is trying to coerce you into opening a wire-transfer account or send them your banking information. Moral of the story: a legitimate company will never back you into a corner. In other words, red flag #3: chat-based and unprofessional interviews.  Young man sitting at table looking at cell phone

4. A professional website and good grammar

It’s always a good idea to take a closer look before submitting an application for a remote or flex job. When you research the company, ask yourself:
  •   Does the website look polished and professional or does it look like it was thrown up overnight by an amateur?
  •   Are there spelling and grammar errors within the job listing or on the website?
  •   Is there an email address available on the site? Does the URL match the website or is it a generic email address?
  •   Is there a physical address and phone number available on the site?
Moral of the story: make sure you know who you are dealing with before handing over sensitive information. In other words, red flag #4: sloppy web pages or bad grammar and spelling.

Do your due diligence to avoid scams

The internet can be your best friend when it comes to avoiding work-at-home scams. There are so many resources available for us to find out more information on companies and job offers. Man sits at table looking at laptop screen is my go-to resource when it comes to work-at-home job reviews. This site allows employees and contractors to leave feedback on their experiences with the companies they work for. Social media can be another place to look for honest feedback and legitimacy. Does the company have a social media presence? Does the company share public updates and original posts? I do have one caveat about online reviews: take some of those reviews with a grain of salt. Happy people usually focus on doing their jobs and may not take the time to write an online review. The complaints to watch for are things like not getting paid for work performed. You may be able to overlook complaints about personality conflicts or scheduling conflicts. Those are very personal things. You may get along great with that same supervisor. That schedule may meet your needs perfectly. Each person can have a unique experience with the same company. Look for red flags, but don’t look for excuses. Woman sits on daybed looking at laptop As we discussed at the beginning of this post, legitimate jobs don’t ask you to pay up-front or communicate over chat-based or non-professional social media messaging. There shouldn’t be membership fees or sign-up costs and the website should have a professional applications portal with real job descriptions.   If you are asking yourself whether all work-at-home jobs are scams, the simple answer is “no.” Legit work-from-home jobs do exist, so use online resources and common sense to protect yourself from scammers. Listen to your gut. Do your research. And continue searching for legit work-from-home jobs that can change your work-life balance for the better. If you have any questions about applying for a job at Appen, or if you suspect you are the target of fraudulent activity in relation to our flexible, remote, and part-time opportunities, please contact   If you enjoyed reading our expert advice article from Angie Nelson about Safety Tips for the Work-From-Home Job Search, visit to read more advice, or visit to see our available opportunities.
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